City studies one-way options for Bishop Street area

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 14, 2000

Natchez aldermen recently made Bishop Street, formerly a two-way road, one way from Union Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Street — and most Bishop residents couldn’t be happier.

When traffic on Bishop was two-way, cars zoomed through down the street both ways, making resident Joyce Dukes fear for her children, ages 4 through 11. &uot;The way it is now, it’s just safer,&uot;&160;she said.

But although almost all Bishop households signed a petition asking the city to make the change, residents of nearby Garden and Beaumont have varying opinions on the subject, some saying it’s now too difficult to get home.

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&uot;The way it is now, you have to go all the way around the world just to get to your house,&uot;&160;said Kenneth Young, a Beaumont Street resident.

So the city is studying the change’s effect on adjacent streets to see whether further changes, such as reversing traffic on Bishop, Garden or Beaumont streets, should be made. That study should be ready to present at the Board of Aldermen’s next meeting, said Rick Freeman, traffic maintenance director.

Such changes would affect the almost 60 households located on Bishop, Beaumont and Garden streets.

On April 25, aldermen voted to make Bishop Street one way from Union to MLK in response to a petition signed by 10 Bishop households.

Resident Carl Hayes, who started the petition, said Bishop residents were tired of having their cars hit and their children endangered by cars driving both ways on a street that was already narrow and had cars parked on both sides.

That petition also called for a stop sign at Bishop and Rankin and a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit on Bishop.

At the suggestion of Police Chief Willie Huff, Beaumont Street was also made one way from Bishop to East Woodlawn. Before, traffic on Beaumont had gone in the opposite direction.

Before aldermen voted, the city had already studied the proposed change, taking into account such things as the width of the street, access for emergency vehicles, public safety and traffic counts on Bishop, Freeman said.

The change was published in The Natchez Democrat that Wednesday and notices of the change were distributed to area residents that Friday. The changes took effect a week later.

The newspaper notice and fliers were the first notice some residents of adjacent streets had that the change was coming.

&uot;That letter,&uot; said Bessie Pollard of Beaumont Street, &uot;was all the notice we got.&uot;

Once Young found out about the upcoming change, he circulated a petition on Beaumont and Garden and took the document to Huff. The issue was again brought up for discussion at Tuesday’s aldermen meeting — and the city committed to giving the issue further study.

According to Huff, the petition circulated by residents of Beaumont and Garden asked the city to take one of three steps:

— To reverse traffic on Bishop, making it one way from MLK to Union.

— To reverse traffic on Beaumont, making it one way from Woodlawn to Bishop..

— To reverse traffic on Garden, making it one way from Woodlawn Bishop.

&uot;They’ve mentioned a variety of options, and we’ll take them all under consideration,&uot;&160;Huff said.

Aldermen George &uot;Shake&uot;&160;Harden — whose ward includes Bishop, Beaumont and Garden — said the first petition was the only one submitted to City Hall.

&uot;That is the petition I honor because that was (made up) of residents that live on Bishop Street,&uot;&160;Harden said.

If residents of Beaumont and Garden streets feel strongly about the issue, they should bring a petition directly to a Board of Aldermen meeting, Harden said.

Some residents of nearby streets think making Bishop one way from MLK to Union would be a good solution.

&uot;All our traffic comes off of Martin Luther King, so what sense does it make to run it in the opposite direction?&uot; Young said.

Jonathan Grennell, who lives on Garden Street near its intersection with East Woodlawn, now has to take MLK to Woodlawn and turn left on Union, Bishop and Garden streets to get home. If Bishop was one way from MLK to Union, he could just turn on Bishop and Garden to get to his house.

&uot;As it is now, it’s just too hard to get home,&uot;&160;Grennell said.

&uot;I’ve lived here more than 40 years with (Bishop) two-way,&uot;&160;Pollard said. &uot;Now, I&160;have to go all the way around (on Union) to get to church.&uot;

But Yates said Bishop Street residents asked for the street to run from Union to MLK on purpose, so that fewer cars would come barreling down Bishop.

&uot;It’s great as it is, because had it come from Martin Luther King, it would have just increased the traffic,&uot; said E.B. Hawkins of Garden Street.

Some drivers still drive the wrong way up Bishop, causing residents to almost have accidents on the street. Hayes said he counted 50 cars driving the wrong way on Bishop in only two hours on a recent afternoon.

But Natchez police are monitoring traffic on the street and will soon give tickets to those driving the wrong way or speeding, Huff said.

Lucille Anderson, whose house fronts MLK but has driveway access from Bishop, has to drive up nearby St. Mary, turn right on Union and turn right again to go all the way down Bishop to her driveway.

&uot;It’s as inconvenient for me as it is for people who live on (Beaumont and Garden), but I&160;don’t mind,&uot;&160;Anderson said. &uot;Making our street safer is the main thing.&uot;

On the other hand, both proponents and opponents of the Bishop Street change seem to have no objection to changing Beaumont’s direction back to the way it was.

In fact, the way it now stands, drivers come up to a hill which obscures an area where many children on Beaumont play.

Drivers can’t see the children and, if they are speeding, might not be able to avoid hitting a child someday, said resident Mandy Noble.

&uot;Children walk across the street just over that hill to play on a trampoline,&uot;&160;Nobles said. &uot;One day, someone’s going to get hit.&uot;